It’s perfectly normal and not all that concerning if you feel resentful occasionally. We all do. And it’s not necessarily a sign that something’s wrong or that you need to make a big change.
But if you struggle with feeling chronically resentful, that’s another story and is almost certainly a sign that you need to ask some deeper, and likely harder, questions about yourself and your relationships.
Here are a few brief tips to help you deal with and ultimately let go of chronic resentment…
1. Think of resentment as a verb, not a noun.
It’s something you do, not something that happens to you. You don’t feel resentful because of what happens to you or what other people do. You feel resentful because of how you think: Constantly replaying events in your mind of how you were hurt or wronged, for example. Or being unwilling to express how you feel or ask for what you really want because you’re worrying about how other people will feel.
You can’t let go of resentment until you take responsibility for it.
2. Ask yourself: What job is my resentment doing?
If you feel chronically resentful it’s because, as we discussed above, you have certain mental habits that maintain it. But what maintains those mental habits, those resentment-producing ways of thinking?
All habits stick around because we get something out of them—that is, they do a job for us. For example, if you drink too much alcohol before or during social gatherings, the job that alcohol is doing is to alleviate your social anxiety. Which means if you want to stop drinking so much, you need to get that need met in a healthier way.
So ask yourself: What job is my resentment doing? Is it boosting your ego by making you feel like a victim? Is it giving you a false sense of certainty or control? Maybe it’s simply keeping your mind occupied with something familiar?
If you want to get rid of resentment, you need to understand what need it’s filling, and get that need addressed in a healthier way.
3. What is my resentment helping me avoid?
Are you using resentment as a form of procrastination?
Do you replay events from your past when someone wronged you because it helps you avoid having to think about your goals and dreams for the future (which terrify you)? Do you complain about your spouse or partner in your head because it helps you avoid the anxiety of being assertive and actually asking for what you want (or don’t want)?
Resentment is almost always a sign of procrastination. If you want to be free of it, ask yourself what important thing you need to address, and go do it.
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